1) Hi Sheila, thank you for joining us today. Could you please introduce yourself?
Hi Petra - Thanks so much for asking me to join you. I'm a writer and former history teacher from Virginia, and I've always loved historical fiction.
2) I enjoyed reading your novel Once A Goddess (my review is here). Do you remember the moment when the idea of writing this story first came to you? How was it?
Once A Goddess was part of the long trilogy process. I came to know Brigid of Ireland historically. I was interested in researching how the Irish had converted from Druidism to Christianity, in a relatively peaceful transition. Of course, St. Patrick was a huge part of that but so was Brigid, the Abbess of Kildare, and I became fascinated by her story.
3) Why Ireland and why Túatha dé Danann?
As I researched Brigid's role (born into a druid family, later converted to Christianity) and her possible connections to Patrick, I discovered there was an earlier goddess Brigid, from the druid pantheon. I started to read up on her (Mary Condren's book The Serpent and the Goddess was key). This earlier Brigid incarnate was one of the Tuatha de Danann. I couldn't tell Brigid's story without the Danann. I decided to write about Brigid's 3 incarnations, as goddess, druid, and saint.
4) Once A Goddess is the first book in the Brigid of Ireland trilogy. Can you tell us something about the second book? Just a little teaser :)
Book 2, tentatively titled Fiery Arrow, brings the druidess Brigid and the priest Patrick face-to-face.
5) You are also working on a collection of contemporary short-stories. What are they about?
My short stories are all different. There are a few links here - The Shape of Fire is about a young woman trying to be true to herself, while Swim brings up the issue of autism and puts one woman under her societal microscope, so to speak. Edge is my most recent flash fiction piece. I'm working on these stories as part of my MFA thesis through Queens University of Charlotte.
6) Did you always want to be a writer?
Yes. I wrote stories as a child, and read voraciously. I've journaled since I was fifteen (and also lug around a huge trunk of them each time I move!). For about ten years, I didn't write any fiction - that was grad school, teaching high school years. When I left teaching full time, I began to write again.
7) What do you enjoy besides (writing) books?
I love to travel, so hopefully I will get back to Ireland soon! If I'm not inside reading books, I'm outside going for a run or hiking in the Virginia mountains.
8) What are your favourite books?
My favorite historical authors include Morgan Llywelyn and Diana Gabaldon. I adore Sherman Alexie, Brady Udall, and Emma Donoghue. I'm also reading short stories, such as Walk the Blue Fields by Claire Keegan and Red Ant House by and Ann Cummins. World War Z by Max Brooks is also on my nightstand.
9) Anything you'd like to add?
For anyone who wants to be a writer, just start writing and don't stop.